Some thoughts on YouTube’s new partner program policies

I’m not a big YouTube star but I have grown a following over the years I’ve been creating video content. I recognized the power of YouTube before most, I started creating video content for my YouTube channel (which is also the BestTechie YouTube channel) back in 2008. So yes, I’ve been creating videos that I’ve published on YouTube for about a decade at this point. Over the past 10 years I’m at almost 400 videos published on the site. I have more than 1.6 million video views and 3,269 subscribers at the moment. Again, not a YouTube star, but YouTube has always been a key part of my online presence so naturally when I heard about the changes YouTube was making to the partner program policies which will take effect starting February 20, 2018 I was worried my account would be on the chopping block.

The new partner program policies state your channel must have at least 1,000 subscribers (check) and have accrued at least 4,000 hours (240,000 minutes) of video views over the course of the past 12 months (which is a checkbox I can’t tick currently (but have in the past) and I’ll explain why).

In 2014, I started a new company called KYA and for the last three years I’ve dedicated myself to building the company. As any startup founder will tell you, you need to give 110% to everything you do, especially if you raise money from outside investors, they would expect absolutely no less. So for the past three years I haven’t been able to create and upload much new video content, which as you would expect meant my YouTube channel has stagnated in terms of growth from all aspects. However, now that I’m no longer pursuing KYA, I’ve been working on creating more content for BestTechie, including video content and growing my YouTube channel again. In the past two-and-half months I’ve uploaded nine new videos, with a few of them receiving more than 1,000 views each.

I was also curious to see if I ever met YouTube’s new partner program policies during my time creating video content. As it turns out in 2013, I did meet the criteria to be part of the new partner program–I had 277,283 Watch Time minutes.  In 2013, I generated approximately $500 in revenues from YouTube. In 2012, I expect that I also met the new partner program requirements as I generated $576 in revenue from YouTube that year. That being said, the “Watch Time” metric that YouTube uses today was only implemented in September 2012, so I only have partial “Watch Time” numbers but in that partial timeframe (9/1/2012 through 12/31/2012) I accrued 102,545 Watch Time minutes so you can extrapolate from there that I probably would have easily met the threshold. If you go back to 2011, I earned $958 that year. In 2010, I earned $1,169 from my YouTube videos.

It was only after I started KYA and was unable to create videos more frequently that my account has not met the threshold. I truly believe I can make my way back to those numbers and then some now that my focus is back on creating content. Which is why when I saw this email in my inbox this morning I was quite upset.

Frustrated and upset, I sent YouTube a message through the partner program contact page. It read as follows:

I recently read about the changes being made to the partner program. As a creator on YT for the past 10 years (and a partner in good standing for a majority of them) I’m reaching out to let you know that if my YT account lost its partner status, that would have a negative affect on my site’s (https://www.besttechie.com) ability to generate revenues.

I realize my account hasn’t had much activity over the past few years–but that was for good reason. In 2014, I started an analytics startup for digital media companies which left me with little time to create new video content. I’m no longer working on that company and recently have started creating new video content for YT and my site. I’ve uploaded 9 videos in the past 2 and 1/2 months so far and am working on building up my audience on YT again as you can see from the stats.

I would appreciate it if my channel was able to remain a partner channel so I can continue to monetize my content which I work hard on.

I received an automated message from YouTube via email telling me they would be in touch as soon as possible. Being that my original message to them was limited to 1,000 words I decided to reply to that email and add some additional thoughts.

In addition to my original message that I sent via YouTube.com, I just want to add:

I just saw the email in my inbox that my account is in fact being removed from the partner program and I will lose access to all monetization and partner features in late February. This is deeply upsetting to me as a longtime YouTube creator and someone who prior to 2014 (which as I mentioned in my original note is when I started my analytics company and didn’t have time to dedicate to creating video content) met the new threshold being implemented. I’ve always been in “Good Standing,” I create safe and family friend content about technology, and I’ve always been a believer in YouTube as a platform. And now to have my partner status terminated just as I’m starting to create content again and rebuild my audience for absolutely no reason other than because certain YouTubers have created content that isn’t brand friendly is ridiculous. It’s certainly not my fault. Everything I’ve done on YouTube has been within the guidelines and rules.

My channel currently has 1.6 million views and counting. I realize that’s not a ton in the grand scheme of things. but at a point in the past I made an additional $1k+ in revenues per year from YouTube (that was important revenue for me). I plan to create a lot of new video content and having the ability to monetize it is of critical importance. And to have that ability taken away from me just because I don’t currently meet an arbitrary threshold set by you isn’t (and I hate to use this word) fair. I worked very hard to create almost 400 videos which live on YouTube currently and now I can’t even monetize my work?

Perhaps I’m a unique case here, maybe I’m not, but I’m I asking you to reconsider the partnership termination for my account.

Honestly, it feels like (and certainly looks like) smaller creators are getting tossed aside, especially those that have been part of the community for years, have had accounts in “good standing,” and have followed the YouTube rules. Why are we paying for problems created by larger creators? Why are we paying for YouTube’s inability to properly enforce their own rules? Why are we paying for bad app design that allowed kids to watch inappropriate content?

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I want to create content for my YouTube channel. I love YouTube. But I also believe I deserve to be compensated for content I create. Yes, I create it because I enjoy it, but I also spend time preparing for each video, researching, reviewing, etc and the fact that I was able to receive some money from via advertisements displayed in the video helped me justify spending the time to create the content. If YouTube doesn’t reinstate my channel as a partner account, I may have to start looking for other ways to host my videos where I have more control and can monetize them myself. I’d prefer to work with YouTube, but we shall see. I will update this post once I receive a reply. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 1: So I received a reply from YouTube. Read below:

Here is the original reply I received after I had sent the messages above.

Hi Jeff,

Thank you for contacting YouTube Creator Support and I hope this email finds you well.

I know that these changes are challenging for most creators especially for those who are currently monetizing. Let me give me some clarifications on what will happen.

This new requirement applies to existing channels who are currently part of the YouTube Partner Program. If you’re below the 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers threshold, ads will not stop running on your videos until February 20, 2018.  If you reach the new threshold before that date, you will not be removed from the program. Our YouTube Creator Academy has many tips on how to build your channel, such as how to make great original content and growing your audience.

If you fall below the new monetization threshold after February 20, 2018  you will no longer see $ icons next to your videos in Video Manager,  but you can go to your Monetization page in Creator Studio to re-apply for monetization. Once your channel reaches the new threshold, your channel activity is reviewed to make sure your content adheres to the YouTube Partner Program policies, YouTube Terms of Service, YouTube spam policies, and our Community Guidelines.

Moreover, I encourage you to keep up the great work. Please let me know if you have other concerns. I am here to help.

Not helpful, completely glosses over the points I made in my original messages to them and explains information I already understood. So I replied back.

I appreciate the reply. I understand how the new policies work. I’m not sure if you saw my follow up email so I’ll include it below. Let me reiterate though, in the past my account has met the new requirements, it was only because I started working on a new company for the past three years that I haven’t been able to continue making videos and now it feels like I’m being punished for that. I don’t think that’s a fair way to treat a creator like myself who has uploaded almost 400 high quality videos that provide value to the YouTube community and also adhere to the guidelines and rules. I’ve included more details and thoughts in a post on my site which includes proof that prior to me starting my new venture in 2014 my account would have adhered to today’s new requirements. I request that you consider an exception and not remove my account’s partner status after Feb 20.

Here is the additional follow up email I sent earlier after contacting you through the Creator Support page (just in case you didn’t see it).

[insert previous email]

I look forward to hearing back. I’m hopeful we can find a solution.

I then received another reply from YouTube again completely skipping over all of my points and essentially just toting the company line.

Hi Jeff,

I appreciate your response. Let me explain further.

If your YouTube Analytics show that you have over 4,000 hours of watchtime in the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers, it’s possible you received the email in error or that you did not meet the threshold at the time the email was sent to you. These changes will not go into effect until February 20, 2018. If your analytics show that you meet the threshold by that date, you will not be removed from the YouTube Partner Program.

I hope this will put your worries to rest. Have a great day!

So frustrating. To which I replied:

I understand exactly how the new policies work. As I stated in my email, I currently do not meet the new requirements but have in the past. I’ve explained my situation in great detail and it seems like you’re overlooking everything I’m saying and just toting the company line. I’m being punished here for working on a different company for the past three years which didn’t allow me to create video content which resulted in me not meeting the new requirements. So basically what you’ve been telling is I’ll have to reapply for partnership (because I don’t currently meet the new requirements and will likely not reach them by February 20th either) after contributing almost 400 high quality videos to the YouTube community over the past 10 years? That’s completely ridiculous. I ask again, please reconsider removing my partner status (again, I realize it won’t be removed until Feb 20 but it is unlikely I’ll hit the new requirements by then based on my channel’s current stats).

I’m still awaiting a reply to my last email so stay tuned, but honestly, it doesn’t look good. It looks more and more like they don’t care.

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UPDATE 2: I received a couple more replies from YouTube and as promised you can find them below:

I do understand your point and I know your channel’s monetization is important to you. Let me explain further about these changes.

Back in April of 2017, we set a YPP eligibility requirement of 10,000 lifetime views. While that threshold helped give us more information before determining whether a channel followed our community guidelines and policies, it’s been clear over the last few months that we need a higher standard. Moving forward, we want to use a bundle of signals that better help us understand the quality of a channel.

We’re making changes to prevent bad actors from harming and taking advertising revenue from the millions of inspiring and original creators who make their home on YouTube. A big part of that effort will be strengthening our requirements for monetization so spammers, impersonators, and other bad actors can’t hurt our ecosystem or take advantage of our creators, while rewarding those who make our platform great.

These new thresholds allow us to significantly improve our accuracy and we’ve arrived at them after thorough analysis and a handful of conversations with Creators.

Once your channel reaches the new threshold, your channel activity is reviewed to make sure your content adheres to the YouTube Partner Program policiesYouTube Terms of ServiceYouTube spam policies, and our Community Guidelines.

I hope this is clear. Have a great day!

To which I replied:

And I understand what you’re saying. And what you’re saying is you’re lumping me in with these bad actors when I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m being punished for lack of activity. I get that I can make it back into the program, that really isn’t the point, the point is I shouldn’t be removed from the program in the first place.

And then received the following back:

First, I want to apologize if you feel like your being punished. That is not and will never be our intention about these changes.

We are aware that this update does affect a large number of channels, and there will be good channels like yours who lose access to the ability to run ads, ultimately we believe this change and the new threshold number is the best compromise to protect our community.

This change doesn’t prevent smaller creators from growing their channel. Creators who haven’t yet reached this new 4,000 hour/1,000 subscriber threshold can continue to benefit from our Creator Academy, our Help Center, and all the resources on the Creator Site to grow their channels.

I suggest you should focus on growing your audience and make them more engaged on your videos. It will be a big help if you check our YouTube Creator Academy that offers many tips on how to build your channel, such as how to make great original content and growing your audience. You can turn your channel into a viewing destination and find out which videos your viewers interact with and like the most. This will help you keep your channel in the YouTube Partner Program.

Your understanding is greatly appreciated. Please let me know if you have other concerns. I am here to help.

To be fair, nothing they say except that will create an exception for my channel will really make me feel better and at this point that does not appear to be possible. I also think it’s funny how they say they are there to help but once February 20th passes and I’m no longer in the partner program I likely won’t be able to receive any further email support.

About the author

— Jeff Weisbein

Jeff is the founder & CEO of BestTechie. He has over 10 years of experience working with technology and building businesses. He loves to travel and listen to music.

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